AHA's 13 'star' healthcare organizations

The American Hospital Association has announced its annual Stars of the Field, which recognizes healthcare organizations for their efforts to improve the health of the individuals and communities they serve.

Healthcare organizations named to the list — published in the August issue of Hospital & Health Networks — have received awards in recognition of their commitment to a variety of goals, such as improving quality and patient safety, enhancing the continuum of care, searching for better ways to deliver palliative and end-of-life care and innovative use of information technology.

The AHA-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize recognizes hospitals for smart use of data and a commitment to employee and patient engagement to drive efforts for quality and patient safety improvement. AHA named Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora as this year's winner for its Target Zero campaign for eliminating patient harm. The campaign has included a "full-court press" over the last two years. Administrators and providers recruit parents to join more than 50 committees to come up with common-sense solutions to improve quality.

Daniel Hyman, MD, chief quality and patient safety officer, said visual reminders posted throughout the hospital combined with all-staff training has helped caretakers understand the goals of the Target Zero campaign and their roles in achieving them.

For example, photos of patients have been embedded in every EHR to ensure all medication and treatments are administered to the right child. These pictures had an immediate effect, dropping the rate of patient identification errors by 90 percent.

AHA named Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., as a finalist and awarded citations of merit to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Ind.

The AHA NOVA Award recognizes five healthcare organizations for programs that bring public partners together to achieve benefits for their communities. This includes efforts to improve economic and social barriers, promote healthy eating, treat chronic diseases and increase collaboration with community stakeholders.

This year, winners include:

  • Florida Hospital (Orlando)
  • Baton Rouge (La.) Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Center (New Orleans), Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (Baton Rouge, La.), Women's Hospital (Baton Rouge, La.)
  • PIH Health (Whittier, Calif.) and Kaiser Permanente Downey (Calif.) Medical Center

The Circle of Life Award for palliative and end-of-life care this year was given to Care Dimensions, the largest hospice in the Boston area. Care Dimensions has previously been recognized for providing excellent palliative and end-of-life care to children, but it has been awarded this year for the development of its robust and comprehensive training program.

Two years ago, Care Dimensions hired Tamara Vesel, MD, a renowned board-certified palliative care specialist who formerly worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Boston Children's Hospital, to introduce a special training to better prepare caregivers for their emotionally taxing work. The new pediatric program also emphasizes forming relationships with a variety of partners, as well as tailoring care to patients' families' specific preferences.

The Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award was awarded this year to the Minnesota Hospital Association. The Dick Davidson award recognizes organizations for their commitment to improve patient safety and hospital quality.

After the Institute of Medicine released its report "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System" in 1999, MHA became the first state hospital association to hire a full-time staff member to focus solely on patient safety. In 2003, MHA, along with the Minnesota Department of Health, created a public reporting system for reporting adverse health events for learning and improvement.

In recent years, MHA created a "Call-to-Action" framework to help hospitals improve quality and patient safety through road maps that highlight best practices. The framework has successfully prevented falls, pressure ulcers, retained objects and other adverse events reported by its members.

The AHA also gave an honorable mention to the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania for sharing best practices and collaborating with providers and stakeholders to improve patient outcomes and experiences.

The Most Wired Innovator Award recognizes hospitals and health systems that have found creative ways to improve patient care and organizational processes through information technology. Winners include St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Mich., Penn Medicine in Philadelphia and St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital  in Newburgh, N.Y.

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland received the award for its use of technology to support clinical goals, namely healthcare-acquired infections and falls. For instance, hand hygiene compliance improved by 300 percent when staff members began wearing real-time locating system badges that are read by sensors at hand sanitizers and sinks.

Penn Medicine earned praise for an internally developed mobile Web app that enables clinicians to access important patient information on their smartphones.

St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital earned the award for bringing mobile electrocardiograms to cardiologists at the hospital, as well has several cardiology practices. Such devices enable patients to take their own heart rhythm reading and email their results to their physicians. They can ultimately avert hospital admissions and catch heart conditions before they worsen. 

Most Wired Innovator finalists include Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Conn., and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. St. Joseph Mercy Oakland was additionally named a finalist for its real-time dashboard for key performance indicators and adherence levels. 

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